Ralph E. Ford Sr. was Baltimore harbor captainServices for...

OBITUARIES

March 08, 1992|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer

Ralph E. Ford Sr. was Baltimore harbor captain

Services for Ralph E. Ford Sr., a Baltimore harbor captain known along the waterfront since the 1940s, will be held 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Crownsville Veterans Cemetery, 1080 Sunrise Beach Road in Anne Arundel County.

Known to all who met him as "Captain Ralph," he died of heart failure early Monday in his home at the Baltimore Yacht Basin marina near the Hanover Street Bridge. He was 81.

Born in the river town of Portsmouth, Ohio, Captain Ford moved to Baltimore before World War II and pursued his love of the water by joining the Coast Guard. After Pearl Harbor, he joined the Army and saw combat on Guadalcanal with the Army's 37th Division. During the war, he also was held prisoner by the Japanese and was present on the deck of the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered to the Allied forces.

"It wasn't too bad. I seen a lotta people get killed. But we was young then," Captain Ford said in a 1982 newspaper interview.

Returning home with his discharge and a Purple Heart, he established a harbor work yard along Pratt Street that performed all types of maritime work, including ferrying supplies and sailors back and forth from land to ships at anchor.

As development overtook his boat yard, Captain Ford moved from pier to pier on Pratt Street before he settled on Boston Street in the early 1970s. His last move, about 10 years ago, was on the southern peninsula of the city to the Baltimore Yacht Basin marina on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco.

A collector of almost any old boat, Captain Ford was particularly fond of wooden vessels and owned several at the time of his death, among them "The Baltimorean," the city's former yacht once known as the "William Donald Schaefer."

Captain Ford, a staunch Democrat and longtime member of South Baltimore's Stonewall Democratic Club, bought the 1950s-era wooden boat at public auction after Kurt L. Schmoke became mayor.

He is survived by his father, John Ford of Portsmouth, Ohio; a daughter, Mary Ann Ford of Baltimore; a son, Ralph E. Ford Jr. of Baltimore; a brother, Tommy Ford of Portsmouth; a sister, Emmalou Ford, also of Portsmouth; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

His wife, the former Leona C. Newman, died in 1987.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the American Heart Association, 415 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21202. Services for Stephen J. Van Lill 3rd, a Baltimore physician for more than 40 years, will be held at 9 a.m. tomorrow in Mitschner Memorial Chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Dr. Van Lill died Thursday of cancer at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. He was 76.

Since the end of World War II, during which he served in the U.S. Coast Guard, until his retirement in 1987, Dr. Van Lill practiced internal medicine in Baltimore.

Dr. Van Lill retired to his family's home along Weems Creek in Annapolis, where he participated in a hospitality program for out-of-state midshipmen at the Naval Academy.

A life member of the Annapolis Yacht Club, Dr. Van Lill also belonged to Phi Delta Phi fraternity.

Dr. Van Lill earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University and graduated from the University of Maryland medical school. He is survived by several cousins.

The family has suggested memorial contributions to the Catholic Chapel Fund, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, 21402.

Sister Mary Theodora

Teacher, principal

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered for Sister Mary Theodora VanBemmel, SSND, who retired from teaching at the former Church of St. Michael's school and was principal of the former Church of the Blessed Sacrament school, at 10 a.m. Monday in the Provincial Motherhouse Chapel in Wilton, Conn.

Sister Theodora died Thursday at Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Conn., of heart failure. She was 82.

Sister Theodora, who took her vows in 1933, began her teaching career at St. Michael's School on Wolfe Street and returned to Baltimore -- after teaching for three Catholic schools in New Jersey and New York -- as an eighth-grade teacher, principal and sister superior at the Blessed Sacrament School during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In 1957, she moved to Connecticut and was named provincial councilor and treasurer of the Wilton Province of School Sisters of Notre Dame. She remained in the latter job until August 1991, and was among the leaders directing construction of the motherhouse.

Sister Theodora, a native of West New York, N.J., was the oldest of 10 siblings. She received her bachelor of arts degree from Seton Hall University and later conducted graduate studies at both Fordham University and Manhattan College.

She is survived by three brothers, Frank VanBemmel of Fort Lee, N.J., John VanBemmel of San Francisco, and Theodore VanBemmel of Stony Point, N.Y.; and four sisters, Eleanor Heyboer of Englewood, N.J., Kathleen Rooney of Brick, N.J., Marie Weber of Midfield, Mass., and Eileen Hyams of Spartanburg, S.C.

The family has suggested memorial contributions to the SSND Development Fund, Wilton, Conn. 06897.

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